Growers weigh up insurance cover options

28 Apr, 2011 03:00 AM
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A number of growers in the Lake Grace and Kent shires are weighing up their cover options after pulling through severe frosts and uncharacteristically dry bouts of weather last year. While one grower said he was still unsure about what the product would actually offer, another said he had seriously considered the cover but was still weighing up the costs.
A number of growers in the Lake Grace and Kent shires are weighing up their cover options after pulling through severe frosts and uncharacteristically dry bouts of weather last year. While one grower said he was still unsure about what the product would actually offer, another said he had seriously considered the cover but was still weighing up the costs.

CBH Mutual has guaranteed WA growers there will be enough available contracts for its new Cost of Production Cover.

It was revealed last week that CBH Mutual's re-insurer, Willis Australia, would re-insure no more than 15 per cent of WA's crop which inevitably resulted in the limited number of contracts available to growers this season.

CBH Mutual said the re-insurance cover had been taken out to cover up to "a certain amount" but could be revised downward depending on grower demand.

A CBH Mutual spokesperson said it only had limited applications available up to a maximum of 15pc of the total wheat and barley crop as a trial and to ensure the re-insurance cover could meet expectations.

But CBH Mutual assured the cap wouldn't affect growers who had hoped to sign up for the cover.

"As this is a new product and concept there has been much interest in the product however we do not envisage reaching this cap," the CBH Mutual spokesperson said.

"There is still plenty of capacity for us to write cover across shires and in total."

But questions still remained about what would theoretically happen if there were more growers interested in taking up the cover than there were positions available.

"As said, we do not see the cap being exceeded," the spokesperson said.

"If demand for a specific shire is exceeded then we will allocate on a first come, first served basis."

CBH Mutual couldn't say who would determine which growers were more eligible for the cover if the cap was reached or which growers would be more worthy of the cover than others.

But it did say the trustee, Willis, would be responsible for issuing the cover and CBH would assist it "in this regard."

The spokesperson also said some growers had expressed concern over the discretionary nature of the fund.

He said mutual funds were common and it was this very feature which ensured the product wasn't an insurance product and didn't attract stamp duty.

"It is our objective to pay on all valid claims," he said.

"What we are doing is bringing a risk solution to growers in the most effective way possible."

He also said a number of growers had expressed concerns about the rules of the fund which allowed for additional contribution requests but it wasn't the intent of the fund to ask for any additional money from those growers that apply.

CBH Mutual also indicated that some growers had inquired about their potentially covered plantings and if they didn't plant all their hectares would they get a refund.

"As the reinsurance is obtained at the end of planting it won't be possible to get a refund from re-insurance and therefore the fund cannot refund for lower hectares," the spokesperson said.

"This is a commercial decision on their behalf.

"I recommend growers apply for a conservative amount of hectares, the amount that they know they will plant, to avoid this being an issue for them."

Recent CBH grower meetings also uncovered that a farm's total wheat and barley area would be included in CBH Mutual's product and growers couldn't have cover for parts of their farms or different farms regardless of whether a farm was in a different shire.

CBH Mutual also allayed concern about its ability to cover the cost of potential claims lodged by WA growers.

The spokesperson said although the CBH Group provided a $10 million guarantee the product disclosure statement clearly stated that there were in fact reinsurance arrangements behind the Mutual which would operate in addition to the $10m guarantee.

"The quantum and terms of this reinsurance are confidential, however CBH Mutual will ensure the quantum of risks underwritten are met by this reinsurance and the guarantee," the spokesperson said.

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